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USHMM Guidelines for
Teaching about the Holocaust
Methodological Considerations
the term
The Holocaust
The Holocaust refers to a specific genocidal event in
twentieth-century history: the state-sponsored,
systematic persecution and annihilation of
European Jewry by Nazi Germany and its
collaborators between 1933 and 1945.
Jews were the primary victims— 6 million were
murdered; Gypsies, the handicapped, and Poles
were also targeted for destruction or decimation
for racial, ethnic, or national reasons.
Millions more, including homosexuals, Jehovah’s
Witnesses, Soviet prisoners of war, and political
dissidents, also suffered grievous oppression and
death under Nazi tyranny.
Arrival of trains carrying Hungarian Jews to
Auschwitz-Birkenau (May 1944)
European Jewry
. . . and their collaborators
French police round up foreign Jews, 1941
Hungary’s Arrow Cross, late 1944
Croatian Ustasa, 1941-44
Lithuanians, Ponary Forest, June 1941
comparisons of
Nomadic Roma (Gypsies).
Czechoslovakia, 1939
Jehovah’s Witnesses
Helene Gotthold,
German Jehovah’s
Witness, and her
children, 1936
Levels of suffering?
Trail of Tears
American slavery
simple answers to
complex history.
Why didn’t they just leave?
The voyage of the St. Louis, May – June 1939
Evian Conference
because it happened
does not mean it was
People made conscious choices
Close-up of Richard
Jenne, the last child
killed by the head
nurse at the
euthanasia facility.
James Grover McDonald
McDonald’s (on the left)
accusation in
December, 1935, that
the German
government was
pursuing a policy of
racial extermination,
made the front page of
the NY Times. What if
the League of Nations
or the US had taken
him seriously?
for precision of
What do these terms have in
 Final Solution
 Jewish question
 Resettlement in the East
 Euthanasia
 Treated appropriately
careful distinctions
about sources of
Court Transcripts
Chief prosecutor
Benjamin Ferencz
presents his case at the
Einsatzgruppen Trial
in 1947.
Would the defendants be
expected to tell the
“whole truth, and
nothing but the truth”?
Military Reports
Image from the Stroop
Report prepared for
Heinrich Himmler to
celebrate victory in the
Warsaw ghetto
uprising (May 1943).
Might the writer have
changed the facts to
please his superior?
Secret archives
One of the milk cans that
held the Ringelblum
archives, a record of life in
the Warsaw ghetto
including descriptive
reports, summaries of oral
testimony, minutes of
meetings, diary entries,
newspaper articles, and
German proclamations.
How much of the bigger
picture would ghetto
residents have known?
to avoid stereotypical
Jews didn’t resist.
A group of Jewish partisans in the Rudniki forest, near Vilna,
between 1942 and 1944.
not romanticize
history to engage
students’ interest.
Krakow, Poland (1943)
Eliezer Zilber, a member
of the Kovno ghetto
resistance, poses in the
forested area where he
fought as a partisan.
(Lithuania, wartime)
the history
you are teaching.
“The Fearful Legacy of an Alcoholic” 1936
In 83 years this woman will
have 894 offspring.
Of those:
40 poverty-stricken
67 hardened criminals
7 murderers
181 prostitutes
142 beggars
These asocials and their
activities will cost the
state 5 million RM.
Stories provide context
Yona Dickmann fashioned this aluminum comb from airplane parts after
the SS transferred her from Auschwitz to forced labor in an airplane
factory in Freiburg, Germany, in November 1944.
She used the comb as her hair, shaven in Auschwitz, began to grow back.
statistics into
Ejszyszki Tower, USHMM
Nina Kaleska (Grodno, Poland 1941)
Testimony personalizes events
They had two ghettos in in Grodno.
The upper ghetto and the ghetto
in..not very far from where we
lived. And very shortly the
entire, the entire Jewish
population of Grodno was being
uprooted from their home. And
that I remember very distinctly
and with great pain. We had
some beautiful china. We had a
very lovely home. Wasn't rich
but it was beautiful. The
Germans would come in and
simply at the whim of a wisp,
just like that [snaps fingers],
remove the most beautiful china
and just throw it against a wall
to break it, for fun, and started
to taunt and tease. And you
didn't really have to be old or
young to recognize that this was
the devil in the flesh. (1941)
sensitive to
appropriate written and
audiovisual content.
Members of an unidentified Einsatzkommando look on as a
young Jew prepares to be shot. The corpses in front of him
are those of his murdered family and the men to the left are
ethnic Germans aiding the kommando. July 4, 1941
"Long live Germany!"
for balance in
establishing whose
perspective informs your
study of the Holocaust.
“The work of the
execution units was
carried out
total number of
Jews liquidated in
Lithuania is 71,105.”
(Report Einsatzgruppe A,
15 October 1941)
“There were screams to
heaven – it was
something terrible,
that one cannot forget.
And there was nothing
to be done…And when
they shot me, I fell on
the dead”
(Dina Beitler, survivor)
A group of German actors parodies Jewish farmers in a Shrove Tuesday parade
in February, 1939.
learning activities.
“live through the pain and hardship”
“put them into the shoes of the
the objectives
of your lesson plan.
What is our responsibility to others?
Democracy doesn’t work on its own